Using Student-Focused Design to Develop an Undergraduate Earth Science Course

Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm
Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session


Janel Ancayan, California State University-Long Beach
Alyssa Abbey, California State University-Long Beach
Course-based research experiences (CBREs) and applying scientific skills to "real" problems have been shown to increase students' interest and retention in STEM fields (e.g., Papendieck et al., 2018; 2020). Therefore, STEM educators have been shifting towards incorporating more courses or modules that involve aspects of doing research or employing the scientific method. However, there has been little involvement of the students themselves, in the development of these experiential learning environments. We have designed and modified a general education (GE) physical science lab course (Geology of local, state, and national parks), using student context factors, to increase student interest in STEM with the goal of either (1) recruiting more students into Earth Science, or (2) increasing/changing students' literacy of and perceptions towards Earth Science. Our course design is guided by student responses to surveys assessing their feelings about different course components and pedagogical approach, including: logistics, class time, activities, assessments, topics, and the course description. Course components include: (i) field trips to local parks, (ii) data collection in the field, (iii) discussions about human impacts, (iv) lab work to analyze and visualize collected data, and (v) creation of different science communication products. We surveyed mostly freshmen and sophomore students at California State University Long Beach, using a survey tool composed of multiple choice and rank style questions. Final results from this survey are forthcoming and will guide further modifications to the course design and provide a basis for creating an additional survey tool to expand our assessment of course components and their effect on student interest, recruitment, and retention in STEM and Earth Science in particular.